Abraham is the father of faith. He was called by God to leave the house and city of his family and to move to a new land where God would make of him a great nation. Anyone who has read the Old & New Testaments is familiar with Abraham. I want to briefly discuss in this message the spiritual climate that Abraham served the Lord in. Historians and archaeologists tell us that Ur worshiped the Chaldean moon god Sin. The people who Abraham encountered in Canaan and Egypt also worshiped other gods different than Yahweh who had called him.
Abraham was not alone on the earth in his faith, but he was definitely isolated in his faith in the Lord. He lived in a society and culture that was built on the worship of gods represented by idols. Some of these societies were monotheistic while most were polytheistic. Abraham began a relationship with the “One true God” and the rest of the story is history.
We all remember that Abraham begat Isaac and that Isaac begat Jacob. We know that Jacob had 12 sons and that his son Joseph was sent by God into Egypt to prepare provision for His children during a famine. The children of Israel spent 400 years in the land of Egypt until God through Moses delivered them through miraculous works. They spent 40 years in the desert prior to entering into the Promised Land. They lived in the land of Canaan, surrounded by pagan people who worshiped idols and lived very differently from the law that Moses received from God. They were captives in Babylon and then servants to the Greeks and finally servants to the Romans before Jesus Christ appeared to save the world from sin.
The church of Jesus Christ spread rapidly throughout the Roman world. It expanded beyond the confines of Roman rule into the east, west, north and south; in each expansion meeting different religions, cultures and societies. There were always people who worshiped Moloch, Baal, Diana, Sin, Dagon, etc. Today there are people who worship Allah, Buddha, Krishna, Vishnu, the Great Goddess, etc.
The people of God have always been surrounded by cultures, societies and governments that worship different gods and live in ways contrary to the Bible. The reaction of Christianity in the modern era is somewhat different than that of our spiritual ancestors. Our spiritual ancestors openly welcomed discourse with those who worshiped other gods. They were excited to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ as the only true God. They were passionate in word and deed. They declared truth from scripture and ministered signs and wonders from heaven to support their claims of Christ’s Lordship.
Were they always welcomed with open arms? No – just read about how many times Paul was stoned, beaten, etc. and you know that not everyone wants to hear that they are worshiping a false god.
Our world has changed a lot since the day of Pentecost. Empires have come and gone. Technology has exponentially advanced. Religions have been created. Christianity has gone through a series of heresies, declines, reformations and revivals. Many of the things that were lost have been recovered to the faith, but most Christians cannot read the book of Acts without feeling like we are in need of more.
The more the world changes, the more it also stays the same. The diverse culture and society that each of us lives in requires us to stand apart because of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We live in a world that does not worship God and does not live according to His word. We are God’s agents of change for the people of our generation. We are the ones that have been called and empowered to take His love, life, power and truth to an unbelieving world.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
God is consistently proclaimed as the One True God throughout both Old and New Testaments. As born again believers we affirm that there is no other way to heaven except through Jesus Christ. We believe that every person on the planet is in need of salvation that comes through Jesus Christ. We believe that men and women will spend eternity separated from God in a place called hell if they do not place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. We are both inclusionists and exclusionists. Everyone is invited, everyone can be saved, everyone is loved but there is only one way to receive it and it is through Jesus Christ.
Do these beliefs offend some? No – they offend many. They offend the Muslim, the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Atheist, the Humanist, the Wiccan and pretty much every other group to varying degrees. These beliefs even offend some who call themselves “Christians.”
It boils down to love. If I truly believe the Bible than I believe that God loves you as much as He loves me. I believe that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross in our place so that we could be forgiven of our sins. I believe that Jesus Christ physically resurrected from the dead in victory over sin and death. I believe that He ascended into heaven where He now prepares a place for those who believe. Read the Statement of Faith (I cannot list all of the beliefs in this message).
If I believe that God loves you and wants you to go to heaven I must risk whatever is necessary to give you the opportunity to accept His gift of salvation. There can be no love of our fellow man beating in our hearts if we are unwilling to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Psalms tell us that our God is greater than anything that is called a god and that the gods which the nations worship are merely idols.
I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. (Psalm 135:5)
For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. (Psalm 95:3)
For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. (Psalm 97:9)
For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. (Psalm 96:4-5)
We believers have a mandate from heaven to share the life that has been freely given to us through Jesus Christ.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. (1 Timothy 2:5-6)
After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. (Romans 3:29-30)
The purpose of this message is to shake your thinking. The gospel has always thrived in a multicultural idolatrous world. It is the people who live in this world that Christ came to save. Jesus said only the sick need a physician. He came to seek and to save that which is lost.
The Christian response to paganism, secularism, agnosticism, atheist, etc. is to preach and demonstrate the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are not here to hold the fort and to merely maintain the standards of godly living among the body. We are here to bring God’s truth into places where it is currently unwelcome. We are here to bring the light of Jesus to the world even if they are currently happy with living in the dark.
Jesus loves them all and we are supposed to. Let us demonstrate our love and His by sharing the words of life with those who are dying without hope.
My prayer for all of us is that we realize the time is short. All of us are dying and we have limited opportunity to reach those around us. The harvest truly is plentiful – may God send all of us as laborers into His harvest.